Bingham and the Catholic Church

Like most Protestants during the nineteenth century, Bingham wasn’t crazy about the Pope.  In 1870, he denied the charge that he wanted to “persecute Rome on account of the peculiar religious notions” of the Vatican, which was an odd way of defending yourself against religious bias.  He said in the same speech that, in contrast to his belief in “free governments, free churches, free schools, free Bibles, and free men,” Catholic doctrine was “an attempt to fetter the freedom of conscience; it is an attempt to fetter the freedom of speech; it is an attempt to fetter the freedom of the press.” Despite his distaste for the Holy See, Bingham held that “religious belief, of whatever character, ought to be tolerated, that error itself ‘may be tolerated’ in the words of [Jefferson] ‘where reason is left free to combat it.’”

I guess this is my Easter message, though that wasn’t my intent when I started writing this post.

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1 Response

  1. JoeJP says:

    It does not justify it all the way, but the power of the Catholic Church at the time was quite different, including political power over sizable territory. It was in the decline by the late 19th Century, but in the not too distant past, it was greater. It also supported certain authoritarian sentiments that would concern people, down to some acceptance of slavery, though as now, conflicting opinions existed.